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Now starting for Rays? Maybe Jeffrey Springs

Notes | Lefty reliever’s impressive work has him in consideration for starter or bulk-inning duties.
Jeffrey Springs has been solid for the Rays in limited action, allowing one run over 13 innings in nine games.
Jeffrey Springs has been solid for the Rays in limited action, allowing one run over 13 innings in nine games. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 4|Updated May 4

OAKLAND, Calif. — With Josh Fleming struggling, Ryan Yarbrough unimpressive in his return, and Shane Baz and Luis Patino still a month away from coming off the injured list, the Rays might need another starter or bulk-inning pitcher.

And they may have one, right there in their bullpen: Jeffrey Springs.

After stretching the lefty out to a career-high 3 1/3 innings on Tuesday, manager Kevin Cash confirmed what has seemed obvious, that they are talking about it.

“He’s been so good for us,” Cash said. “He’s been so neutral (against right- and left-handed hitters). (Tuesday) night was super efficient (31 pitches). There’s conversations that we’re having day to day trying to find out what’s best for our pitching staff.

“Certainly, it’s interesting to talk about. He hasn’t done it in a long time, to become a starter/bulk guy. But being so tough on righties, and being as good as he’s been, it makes the conversation fun to have.”

For now, Cash said they plan to keep Springs — who has allowed one run over 13 innings in nine games — stretched out, using him when he will work at least into a third inning to see how he responds. The most pitches he has thrown is 43, on April 28.

Springs, 29, said he is open to whatever the Rays want him to do. He worked occasionally as a starter in the minors, most recently in 2017, and has done so three times in the majors on bullpen-type days, including once this year.

“I’m kind of not looking too much into it, just kind of seeing whatever they ask,” Springs said. “Obviously, if they want me to get stretched out for whatever reason, I’m all for it. I want to pinch as much as possible. So that’s a great way to get innings.”

Medical matters

As part of the effort to limit Wander Franco’s workload as he deals with leg muscle issues, the usual shortstop was the DH Wednesday. “Watching him run (Tuesday), I think the treatment that he got, it helped,” Cash said. “He looked pretty good. He actually managed himself a little bit, which was encouraging.” Franco, though, went 0-for-5 and made his feelings known. “Wander doesn’t like to DH, he told me that,” Cash said after the game. … Yandy Diaz went down after being hit by a pitch on the left kneecap in the ninth, but stayed in and is expected to be in the lineup Thursday. … Catcher Francisco Mejia, out since testing positive for COVID-19 after the April 20 return from Chicago, will rejoin the team Thursday in Seattle. Rene Pinto was optioned back to Triple-A after Wednesday’s game. … Pitching coach Kyle Snyder and bench coach Matt Quatraro, out since Saturday due to COVID reasons, were cleared to return and is expected in Seattle Thursday. Bullpen coach Stan Boroski and field coordinator/catching coach Paul Hoover are among the staffers still out.

Miscellany

The Rays swept a series in Oakland for the first time in their 25 seasons. It was their second sweep of this season, first since the opening series against Baltimore. ... Right-hander Robert Dugger, who was designated for assignment after coming up from Triple-A and pitching five-plus innings Sunday, was claimed off waivers by the Reds. … Tuesday’s comeback was historical: The first game in the modern era (since 1901), per STATS LLC, in which there were eight (or more) runs scored in the first two innings, eight (or more) scored from the ninth on and none in between.

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